A Learning Community
More than 375 students of all gender identities and expressions come to the Smith campus each summer, including 125 students in the entering class. Our students come from across the country and reflect a diversity of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age and physical ability. They are joined in one common pursuit: a master's degree in social work. They are supported in their professional ambition by 14 resident and more than 100 adjunct faculty members, all of whom bring a broad and deep expertise in and dedication to clinical social work.
Smith students and alumni consistently cite the accessibility and support of instructors as one of the school's greatest strengths. With a faculty-student ratio of one to four, our faculty are available to not only instruct, but to encourage, guide and inspire students. Faculty maintain regular office hours, serve as liaisons to student groups, collaborate with students on research and mentor students in special endeavors. Smith faculty take a personal interest in the professional development of each student. Their support follows students into the field practicum, with faculty field advisers visiting students twice a year in their internship sites and working collaboratively with agency-based supervisors in support of the students’ clinical learning. Students communicate with the faculty adviser on a monthly basis and receive support and feedback on clinical and anti-racism assignments during the internship year. Additional advisers work with students in community and research projects.
As a largely residential community during the summer, exchanges among students and between students and faculty extend beyond the classroom, spilling into dining halls and cross-campus walks, creating an informal and ongoing supportive environment. Students plan extracurricular activities, recreational and social events and additional learning opportunities to fill the summer weeks from the student orientation to the senior skit and Commencement. Student organizations host lectures, discussion groups, demonstrations and other creative events that inspire and ignite campus energies. Students also present their research projects at community colloquia.
Student Org is the central organizing body for students at the School for Social Work. This highly active organization is committed to responding to the changing needs of Smith students and has several functions which have evolved through the years. Its primary role includes providing student representation and input into all aspects of the School, taking an active role in shaping school policies and procedures, organizing social and intellectual extracurricular activities, providing a forum within which all groups and special interests of the student body can be heard, and working together to share and allocate resources. Student Org also serves as an umbrella for a number of special interest student groups.
Once students enter their field internships, they leave the support of the campus community but are received by a dynamic network of alumni across the country. SSW alumni live and work in virtually every state (and in more than a dozen foreign countries). Together they form a vast system of skilled professionals providing leadership in a variety of social work settings, including family service agencies, mental health centers, child welfare agencies, Veterans' hospitals and hospitals. They are also a vital and professionally involved group with a strong commitment to the School, to the profession of social work and to the support of School for Social Work students. Through alumni placement area coordinators (PACs), alumni are able to provide support in everything from welcoming receptions, help in finding temporary housing, mentoring, to just offering a cup of coffee and a listening ear. The Alumni Association also maintains and supports a number of active chapters in many cities across the United States. These chapters sponsor professional lectures and workshops, organize alumni networks, provide emotional and material support to students in field internships, assist new graduates as they establish their careers and raise funds in support of student scholarship.
Social work students benefit from the wide variety of services offered by Smith’s Lazarus Center, which is dedicated to helping students find employment after graduation. Experienced staff members provide resume and cover letter review, lead on-campus workshops during the summer academic sessions and offer individual career advising in person and by phone. The Center coordinates a School for Social Work Career Fair each summer, and its website includes social work-specific resources and a database of job opportunities received by the office. The Center also houses a career resource library. Lazarus Center services are available to current students and to graduates for five years following graduation.